Thursday, May 11, 2017

Karla Bonoff Brings It 'Personally' to City Winery

There aren't many people who spent their teen years watching Joni Mitchell, James Taylor Elton John and Jackson Browne performing at the Troubadour on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood -- before trying her hand at open-mike night -- have a telegram from Jackson Browne (to congratulate her when she signed her deal with Columbia Records) and "had fun" with Richard Simmons in the green room of "The Merv Griffin Show." But then again, there aren't many people like Karla Bonoff. While never achieving household-name status, Bonoff comes out of that magical period of time in the 1970s when music was being created in the canyons of Los Angeles at a level that will never be duplicated. Bonoff has had a long and illustrious career, as a solo artist, member of Bryndle and songwriter, having penned songs for Linda Ronstadt ("Someone to Lay Down Beside Me," "Trouble Again," the Grammy-winning "All My Life"), Wynonna Judd ("Tell Me Why"), Bonnie Raitt ("Home") and others. So when I saw she was playing a rare NYC gig at City Winery, I jumped at the chance to see her. The show was equal parts music and equal parts memoir -- a publisher should really sign this woman to a book deal, although none of them seem to care about people who aren't reality TV "stars" anymore -- and I was struck by how strong her voice still is, showing none of the signs of aging so common in touring artists. (Her accompanying guitarist, Nina Gerber, was as talented as she was adorable.) 

Tour dates HERE.

In addition to doing all of her best-known (aforementioned) songs, she performed "Something Fine," her contribution to the 2014 Jackson Browne tribute album. She even dusted off her one Top 20 single, "Personally," which ironically was written by someone else. Explaining that she was hanging out with her pal Glenn Frey -- you know, that's normal! -- who playing the Jackie Moore version when Karla asked what it was. Glenn said he'd found the 1978 version (that peaked at No. 92) and thought it might be good for Bonnie Raitt. Karla said wait a cotton-picking minute, and the rest is history. Her performing it, however, was a rarity as she always felt without the string and horn sections -- and the Eagles singing backup! -- she couldn't reproduce it live. Now 65, Bonoff said she "didn't really give a shit anymore"  and did the best she could ... which was more than enough. She then closed the show with a beautiful rendition of "The Water Is Wide," which was apparently used to great effect on the TV show "Thirtysomething" -- as it was last night. 

(If you hear someone poorly singing along, that's me!)


Damian said...

Hey, she DID say we were welcome to join in at the outset! xo

MMTampa said...

I often confuse her with Laura Nyro, hence I'm glad she is alive. . . always loved the music of both of them.